09 February 2009

For the world has changed

“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

These words could well have been uttered by India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, describing the state of things in our country. Or, by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, lamenting over his Party’s failure to show the people of the UK a light at the end of the tunnel. However, these words were spoken by President Barack Obama of the United States in his Inaugural Address at the White House three weeks ago.

Could the situation be any worse? Well, in President Obama’s words: “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many – and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

Not exactly the kind of situation to inspire an incumbent President! The risks are great… especially, when the whole world is waiting to see if he can do some magical thinking to save his country and the planet, without tramping over and destroying others in his eagerness to fulfil his responsibilities. For, without doubt, such has been the style of his predecessor.

But, President Obama seems to know this well; and he preempts us all, saying (and I quote from his Inaugural Address):

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy the relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.

For the world has changed, and we must change with it.”

Wonderful words. The question is: will President Obama be able to keep his promises?

[Citation: President Barack Hussein Obama’s Inaugural Address, 21 January 2009.]

No comments: